Brendan Riley
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Current question: 2 Player Area Control?

This game is an area control game, in some ways. When you're working to seduce or sacrifice the campers in the cabins, you do so by placing corruption tokens on campers or areas of the board. In a two-player game, this can result in a less-than-satisfying tug of war and be especially dispiriting for the player who is losing.

So I'm curious -- do you know of area control games that play well with two, and how do they resolve this issue?

I don't want to cut out two player support (as many of the games I play are two player only), but I'm not happy with the way the game plays at 2.


Previous questions posted in the first comment

- - - -

Hi All,
Thanks for taking time to look at the development discussion for my game, Something Wakes in the Forest.

Quick pitch:
In Something Wakes in the Forest, you take on the role of a malevolent spirit trying to gather enough mystical energy to enter our world. (Think of the mysterious forces in The Evil Dead.) Build up your energy by prodding your minions to expand your control over the forest itself, seduce campers into your service, or sacrifice people. But don't be greedy -- each action you take expends the very energy you're trying to accumulate. Something Wakes in the Forest is a darkly-humorous area-control auction game for 2-5 players that takes 60-90 minutes.



Long version of the premise:
As long as people have lived near this ancient, moldering forest, they’ve known something was wrong with it. Perhaps an ancient civilization used this fetid soil to entomb their dead; maybe a band of crusading knights slaughtered pagans during one of their arcane midnight rituals; it’s possible these towering trees hide a fissure in the very fabric of reality, an abyss you should not stare at, lest you glimpse a monstrous eye staring back.

But none of these things stopped the developers of Quaint Cabins Limited (LLC), whose cozy vacation cabins and secluded hunting bungalows are right now being rented to city slickers who don’t know the locals had a good reason for naming this particular place Dread Lake.

When those clueless visitors come to stay in the cabins around Dread Lake, they ignore the locals’ warnings, they mess around with the ancient talismans scattered among the trees, and they party. Oh, how they party.

Basic Gameplay summary:
In this game, players take the role of malevolent forces scheming to claw their way into the world. Players compete to corrupt the visitors to the Dread Lake Forest and increase their malign power to invoke an awakening and unleash their vile fury upon all mankind.

During each “Day” of the game, you will compete for control of campers and the board by placing your tokens strategically. As you seduce campers to serve your vile campaign, they become minions who can do more evil deeds on your behalf. That is, until you tire of them and sacrifice them to your cause. But be careful how quickly you infest the earthly world, as spending too much power can leave you vulnerable to the other monstrous forces competing to open the cursed gate in the deep, dark wood.
It’s a fun game of demonic possession and horrifying evil!

Objective:
In order to enter the world, a player's minion must perform a 'summoning' and the player must expend a particular amount of energy. The first player to do so wins the game.

Key Concepts:
As evil demons not yet manifest in the world, you can only act through your minions. These slavering cultists corrupt and sacrifice campers on your behalf. They might offer the campers a sinfully good meal, or tempt them with a roll in the hay, or just carve your arcane glyphs in the trees around the cabins.

* Corruption and Sway - You can hold mystical influence over areas of the board and over Campers. When you have more influence than any other player, you have Sway over that Camper or area.

* Sacrifice - Any Camper in your sway who matches one of your sins can be sacrificed to add to your pool, which gives you more power to spend and gets you closer to winning.

* Seduction - Campers may also be seduced and added to your deck as minions. This will give you more actions in the game, and will allow you (later) to sacrifice them, even if they DON’T match one of your sins. Note that you’re competing to Seduce Campers, and there’s always a chance they’ll resist (fickle humans!).

* Summoning - The game ends when one player has accumulated enough power in their pool to have one of their minions perform a summoning.

* Risk vs. Reward - Because most actions require players to spend their corruption tokens, successful players must find a balance between spending tokens and accumulating them to perform the final summoning.


Sample images:

Maelevolence Card:

This is your player card. It shows the name of your daemon and the two cardinal sins you like the best. It's easier for you to seduce campers who share your sins.

Camper card:

New campers come to the forest each round, and players compete to add influence on them in order to get "sway" over them (to turn them into minions) or to sacrifice them for the immediate payoff of more energy. Each camper or group of campers are susceptible to different combinations of sins.

Recreation cards:

Each round, the campers "party" in the woods and become susceptible to extra influence from demons who exploit those particular sins. In the example here, the goat is the classic symbol for lust.


Current Rulebook:
http://rattleboxgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ruleboo...

Update log:
2016-05-13 - initial post. Question: which era works best for this game?

Thanks for any feedback about the game you can give!
 
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Brendan Riley
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - which era is best?
Previous questions from this post

Question 1:
As we've worked on this game, my team and I have dithered about what kind of art / era works best. So I'm interested to hear, which kind of campers do you think would work best -- 1920s era folks (think "Roaring 20s" in the US, 1970/1980s era folks (think The Evil Dead or Friday the 13th), or contemporary folks?

Question 2: How do you feel about workers who get "exhausted" and need to sit out a round? Is this a helpful mechanism, or does it just get in the way?

Question 3: Round end vs. Instant victory? What's your gut reaction to how the game should end? What games can you think of that provide intense endings? How do they do so?
 
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - which era is best?
I would aim for recent. Modern but before cell phones and led flashlights were common. I imagine that as the peak of camping recreationaly and secluded. Not entirely sure what the era would impact though, but I bet I could spin it just right if it isn't already.

edit add: opps sorry didn't catch the rules link on the first pass....when was sending your kids off to summer camp the popular choice? I'd guess late 80s? idk
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Brendan Riley
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - which era is best?
Yeah, I'm inclined toward the late 1970s and early 1980s myself, as this is when the movies that inspired the game usually take place. A 1920s theme would be interesting too, though, as they have a pretty distinct style look.
 
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - which era is best?
A bit more thinking on this:

1920s - Art deco art, roaring twenties theme, can include figures like rum-runners, backwoods hillbillies, hoboes. Could even include Alestair Crowley or other notable occultists of the day. However, 920s theme risks the game feeling too much like a Lovecraft-themed game, 1920s is a commonly-used time for games, harder to use historically-realistic diverse campers.

1970s/early 80s - Distinct fashion looks, more modern tropes to draw on. Can include more nods to horror films that inspire the game. A bit more original, thematically. Alas, hardest to come up with stereotypes or character groups.

Contemporary - Allows for references to all manner of horror films, using contemporary figures and themes. Less likely to have a distinct "style" in the art that evokes an era. Perhaps harder to get into the theme.

More feedback would be welcome.
 
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - which era is best?
The 20's doesn't really grab me or make sense with your premise. I like the Evil Dead angle. I don't think it's necessary to peg it down to 1980 though, as for the most part camping clothes and gear hasn't really changed much. I'd just think of it as modern era with nods to 80's horror and characters.

Actually, the camper cards don't have to all come from the same year period do they... maybe conceptually a weird time vortex could be going on. That way you are free to draw on whatever you want. It seems the underlying theme is the forrest setting, that could tie everything together enough for product design aesthetic.

The premise also reminded me of Twin Peaks, if you aren't familiar check that out (first season at least).

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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - which era is best?
If your premise is a recreational subdivision with a bunch of partiers who summon bad stuff, then I think the '80s is by far the best choice. Construction was formulaic by then which fits your developer's description, as maf man said pre-cell/smart phones, Ouija boards/music/D&D were causing mass satanic hysteria, young adults had become mostly ignorant of nature and spiritual matters/legends by then (more into Miami Vice and Max Headroom), etc.
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Brendan Riley
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - which era is best?
Good thoughts, both. I hadn't thought of the time-vortex idea or the Twin Peaks connection. Both are interesting. The latter might be fun to pay homage to in some cards, certainly.

I think people were going to camping retreats like the Catskills or Jekyll Island by the 1920s, but the point about the pre-fab cabins does feel much more 1980s to me. It also resonates with Poltergeist's "built on a burial mound" notion. Thanks!
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - worker exhaustion mechanisms
Bumping this...

Most worker placement games have some way to keep you from using your workers over and over -- they stay on the board until the round ends, you have to take a special action to get them back, etc. In this game, when you use one of your minions (from your hand of cards) to perform an action, it becomes "defiled" and must rest for a round before you can use it again. Mechanically, this is accomplished by putting it in a "defiled" pile that gets moved up at the beginning of the next round.

A couple other games use similar mechanisms (particularly, in Shakespeare) in which using a worker one round means you can't use them the next. I like this mechanism because you *can* go whole hog and use all your minions in one round for a super blitz, but then you have no-one with which to act in the next round, so there's an interesting decision to be made about conserving your action points.

So my latest question -- How do you feel about workers who get "exhausted" and need to sit out a round? Is this a helpful mechanism, or does it just get in the way?
 
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Re: [WIP] Something Wakes in the Forest - Quick end or round end?
New Current question:

Current question: Round end vs. Instant victory?

Thematically, in this game you're a daemon, building up the necessary energy for one of your minions to perform a summoning ritual and pull you into the world. But the game is played in rounds, so if "perform a summoning" is the final act of the game, everyone might not get an even number of turns. Thus, I have two ideas in mind for how to end the game:

1 - once a player performs a summoning, the action round is finished and the player with the most energy wins. Thematically, I imagine that player 1's minion opens the rift from the demon realm into the world, but then the strongest demon shoulders through the opening.

2- when a player performs a summoning, the round ends immediately and the player who performed the summoning wins. Thematically, the minion is summoning a specific demon and thus the player who performed it wins.

If the first player were automatic, I would be more inclined toward #1, but the player turn order is determined by actions/investment in the previous turn. Thus, if a player loses because they went second instead of first, they should have spent more to be first player.

I also think the tension of "perform the summoning, win the game" provides an immediacy that avoids the potentially-tedious "tallying of the score" that so many games use.

So my latest question -- What's your gut reaction to how the game should end? What games can you think of that provide intense endings? How do they do so?
 
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